Alexander Cockburn ends his McNamara obituary with this comparison:
Like Speer, he [McNamara] got away with it, never having to hang his head or drop through a trap door with a rope around his neck, as he richly deserved.John Chuckman, on the other hand, uses Eichmann's aura, as identified by Hannah Arendt, to damn McNamara:
McNamara may be the greatest modern example of the banality of evil.
He was, in his heyday, a dry, boring man with the appearance of a corporate executive who taught Baptist Sunday School classes.
He was very bright and energetic, but dry and boring, driven by an insane need for success and with no evident ethical standards beyond those associated with the ferociously ambitious.
The United States, under his advice and that of others like McGeorge Bundy, created the greatest holocaust since that of World War II.Update II (7.8.2009)
Robert Scheer points out that:
Much has been made of the fact that he [McNamara] recanted his support for the [Vietnam] war, but that came 20 years after the holocaust he visited upon Vietnam was over.
Is holocaust too emotionally charged a word? How many millions of dead innocent civilians does it take to qualify labels like holocaust, genocide or terrorism? How many of the limbless victims of his fragmentation bombs and land mines whom I saw in Vietnam during and after the war? Or are America's leaders always to be exempted from such questions? Perhaps if McNamara had been held legally accountable for his actions, the architects of the Iraq debacle might have paused.
Instead, McNamara was honored with the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson, to whom he had written a private memo nine months earlier offering this assessment of their Vietnam carnage: "The picture of the world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one."Scheer's summary judgment: "What McNamara did was evil — deeply so."
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now discusses McNamara with Howard Zinn, Marilyn Young and Jonathan Schell.